23 January 2020

[Ryan Ralston] - TWO QUERIES, TWO PHONE CALLS AND A DENIED OPPORTUNITY FOR FACTS

AN ORGANIZATIONAL MATTER
One of many responsibilities of the Office of Sheriff in Georgia is to operate a jail. A “full service” Sheriff’s Office, like the one in Newton County, also provides primary law enforcement within unincorporated areas of the county. The duties, as it pertains to the operation of the jail, as enumerated in OCGA 15-16-10 are clear: confine, feed, and care for all persons charged with the violation of any ordinances of such counties in the same manner as persons charged with an indictable offense. 
An individual arrested in Newton County, irrespective of the arresting agency, is taken to the Newton County Detention Center for booking and housing. 


PRIMARY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN NEWTON COUNTY
Newton County Sheriff’s Office
Covington Police Department
Oxford Police Department
Porterdale Police Department 


OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENICES THAT OPERATE WITHIN NEWTON COUNTY
Georgia State Patrol
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Georgia Department of Insurance 
Georgia Department of Revenue
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Georgia Department of Driver Services
Georgia Secretary of State’s Office 
Motor Carrier Compliance Division
Multiple Federal Agencies 


ONLINE POLICE BLOTTER 
According to a recent online police blotter article, a Newton County resident was arrested and charged with disobeying a traffic control device, DUI-alcohol and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. Along with the individual’s full name, age, address, and date of arrest, the newspaper provided the name of the arresting agency – the Newton County Sheriff’s Office
In the same article, it shows another Newton County resident was arrested and charged with DUI-alcohol and reckless driving. Again, the individual’s full name, age, address, and date of arrest was published. The name of arresting agency – the Covington Police Department - was provided.  


LAW ENFORCEMENT/MEDIA REPORTS
Whenever a law enforcement agency files a report, it becomes a matter of public record. 
A common practice for Newton County law enforcement is to provide a consolidated “report” for the media that summarizes a basic who, what, when, where, why, and how an arrest was affected. These reports are used for covering stories, investigative journalism, and detailing police blotter.   


A PUBLIC RECORD IN GEORGIA DEFINED – OCGA 50-18-70 (a)
(a) All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, or similar material prepared and maintained or received in the course of the operation of a public office or agency. 
"Public record" shall also mean such items received or maintained by a private person or entity on behalf of a public office or agency which are not otherwise subject to protection from disclosure; however, this Code section shall be construed to disallow an agency's placing or causing such items to be placed in the hands of a private person or entity for the purpose of avoiding disclosure. Records received or maintained by a private person, firm, corporation, or other private entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency, a public agency, or a public office shall be subject to disclosure to the same extent that such records would be subject to disclosure if received or maintained by such agency, public agency, or public office. As used in this article, the term "agency" or "public agency" or "public office" shall have the same meaning and application as provided for in the definition of the term "agency" in paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-14-1 and shall additionally include any association, corporation, or other similar organization which: (1) has a membership or ownership body composed primarily of counties, municipal corporations, or school districts of this state or their officers or any combination thereof; and (2) derives a substantial portion of its general operating budget from payments from such political subdivisions.


INMATE INFORMATION
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office maintains a publicly accessible website:  www.newtonsheriffga.org. It’s convenient and easy to navigate. On the Home Page there is a Quick Links bar. It directs a user to Inmate Information. Current and former inmates can be queried. Only a first and last name is needed to look for a current inmate. If searching for a former inmate - a search by booking date and a select date range option exists – or the full name search choice is available. 
This publicly accessible information – which can include the individual’s full name, age, address, date of arrest, and name of the arresting agency - is frequently used by local media outlets while preparing their articles. It is also open for a private citizen to use. 


DEMONSTRATIVE PURPOSES 
A current inmate query was conducted on both Newton County residents listed as arrestees published in the online article. It was determined they were not currently housed at the Newton County Detention Center. 
A previous inmate query was conducted on both arrestees using all the available information provided in the online article. This search function was not operating properly. A decision was made to only confirm the name of the arresting agency. It was attempted by phone. Note: this information was published online and provided to the newspaper by the arresting agencies in question. 


PHONE CALL 1 – NEWTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE 
It was anything but a standard phone call placed to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. The process of confirming the name of the arresting agency should be easy. The details were published online and a matter of public record. 
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office main number is: 678-625-1400. 
RR: Good morning. I am having trouble with your website and need to confirm the name of the arresting agency of an inmate. I believe the arrestee is already released and was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office.  
NCSO Employee: Who are you with, sir?
RR: What do you mean?
NCSO Employee: What agency are you with?
RR: I’m not with an agency. I’m a private citizen.
NCSO Employee: Why do you need that information?
RR: It was published online and made public by a local newspaper and I would like to confirm if the arresting agency listed in the report is correct? 
NCSO Employee: I can’t give you that information, sir.
RR: Why?
NCSO Employee: Once an inmate is released from our facility, I am not allowed to disclose that type of information. 
RR: Why?
NCSO Employee: Have you filed an Open Records Request?
RR: I have not. 
NCSO Employee: Then I can’t give you that information, sir. 
RR: Just so I’m clear. Your publicly accessible website allows for anyone – to include a private citizen - to search for current and former inmates. 
NCSO Employee: Yes.
RR: And that information – if available - would list the name of the arresting agency? 
NCSO Employee: Yes, sir. 
NCSO Employee: Were you involved in the arrest? 
RR: No. 
NCSO Employee: Are you listed in the report? 
RR: No.
NCSO Employee: Are you related to the inmate?
RR: No. 
NCSO Employee: Why do you need that information. 
RR: I am not asking for a copy of the report. As a private citizen, I wanted to confirm the name of the arresting agency. That’s all. Normally, I would be able to access that information on your website. However, the previous inmate search option is not functioning properly, which is why I called. 
NCSO Employee: Without an Open Records Request, I cannot give you that information, sir.
RR: I understand. Thank you. 


22 January 2020

[Ryan Ralston] - Beloved Newton

This is not a new year, new you piece. Resolutions are not my thing.
When we look ahead to 2020, there is much to be thankful for. Feel free to fill in those blanks yourself.
2019 presented itself as a challenging year for all bodies of Newton County government. Feel free to fill in those blanks yourself.  
This morning, I listened to a segment on the radio about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his principle of The Beloved Community.  The term, first coined by Josiah Royce, was later popularized by Dr. King. 
The Beloved Community was where social issues like racism and bigotry were replaced by understanding and compassion. Love trumped hatred. Peace superseded war. Conflict was unavoidable but could be resolved peacefully through open lines of communication. 
Dr. King spoke of The Beloved Community and reconciliation as the end goal. 
It is that sense of community, juxtaposed with the upcoming elections that will be examined.
There’s no place where our voice can be heard more so than our own backyard. When we bypass local elections as though our voice can’t be heard, we guarantee it won’t.
There may not be a more exciting (or depressing) form of politics as the U.S. presidential race but for those registered voters in Newton County, our local elections are a great opportunity to become politically engaged. The election of a city council member or county commissioner has a tremendous impact on our community. Our local politicians act on issues equally as important to us, such as; building and zoning, licensing, infrastructure, ordinances, millage rates, school funding, and parks and recreation. It is essential to vote and make our voices heard. Without civic engagement, our concerns go unaddressed. 
Progress begins by first electing candidates who recognize they are beholden to us and all issues begin and end at the local level. 
When voting, we must reflect on what issues are most important to us and seek a candidate who shares those concerns. Responsible voting must involve taking time to learn about a candidate and their policies before making a decision on which candidate to vote for. By making the effort to self-educate, our voices can be heard in local elections, inspiring a younger generation of voters to become involved in their representative government.  
There are many local elected positions that affect the everyday lives of Newton County citizens but all too often we sit on the sidelines and choose silence. It is important that every citizen educate themselves on the candidates and vote intelligently. This is a major component of a successful democracy. Re-electing self-serving candidates is the flipside of the coin and primary reason why we are contending with issues like high taxes, budget shortfalls, and corruption.  
We often ignore the local for the national. 
Let’s get this out of the way right now: your vote matters! 
Unlike federal elections, where your vote is counted amongst millions, local elections are direct and often counted among the hundreds. The power of your vote is more concentrated and has a greater impact. 
Local elections are not glamorous. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t fed up with politics in general. Since so much of our local leadership is elected in “off-years,” it does not reap the needed attention it deserves. Incumbents have a political advantage, but with the level of scrutiny given to candidates on the national level, why do local candidates not receive the same attention? 
The president is not the only person you can vote for. It’s not going to be what the president tweets that impacts your life as much as what’s going on inside the historic courthouse! Period. Hard stop. #OneNewton
This fact is lost on local newspapers like The Covington News
Being made aware of the process and how important your vote actually is, becomes an issue of empowerment. Ask yourself. Why would a local newspaper or candidate not want an informed and empowered voter? #BaaaahGoTheSheep
Citizens are notorious for staying home for local elections rather than heading to the polls, averaging less than 30% turnout. This is the tip of a systemic problem as billions of special interest dollars dominate national politics. We have reached critical mass as a nation and approach political “burnout.” #Impeachment2020 
We are under the impression that voting for the national is somehow more patriotic and important than participating in the local. When the president fails to live up to a campaign promise, does it adversely impact you as much as a county commissioner engaged in good ole’ boy politicking? We possess a skewed view of the hierarchy of politics, believing local elections rest on the lower end of the totem pole. 
Unbeknownst to the uneducated, this thought process is wrong. The actions of the president do not affect us as drastically as a vote cast by a city council member. Breaking News: the president is not constitutionally responsible for Newton County. 
Local elected officials are supposed to serve as an example of democracy in action. They act on behalf of us and our concerns. Therefore, participating in local elections is supposed to be the most indicative form of politics; these elected officials represent us on an intimate level and when we don’t vote, we create a disconnect between ourselves and them. This divide is counter-productive to liberty. 
Not participating in local elections allows small groups whose interests may not align with our own to hijack local politics. The smaller groups’ interests become the ones local leaders care most about. #Duh
Our voices must be heard, and can make a difference but it starts where it matters most: locally. 

Local elections is the best way to become politically aware. If more people participated, then more local issues would be addressed and solved! Period. Hard stop. #BrickFuckingWall

21 January 2020

[On the C-town Beat w/ MB] - Anthony Henderson's New Job; Latest w/ the Rec Dept & More on Proposed Refugee Shelter

Friends, so glad you join us again. We've got the chafing dishes ready & the sterno burning, so let's dig right in! 



Anthony Henderson Now Working with Newton Co. Code Enforcement 

Covington Councilman & son of Newton Co. Commissioner JC Henderson, Anthony Henderson, it has been confirmed, is no longer working at the Newton Co. Jail but is now working with the Newton Co. government in the Code Enforcement department. Questions have been raised as to the hiring process for Mr. Henderson, and also too relating to any potential conflicts of interest as his father serves on the BOC, governing authority of the county. I'll be working to get more information moving forward... 

More Dysfunction at Newton Co. Rec Department? 
[information redacted at moment]...

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Additional Information Regarding the Proposed Refugee Shelter

Last week at its regular monthly meeting, the Covington Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny a petition for a refugee shelter to be located at 7188 Turner Lake Circle. Covington P&Z Staff also recommended denial. In addition to numerous concerns about land use, increased traffic & a potential drain on the city's infrastructure capabilities & services, the commission purportedly was concerned with the proposed tenant's lack of answers or even basic knowledge of what exactly this shelter would entail, as well as being unable to answer questions pertaining to the staffing or security of this shelter (emphasis added) According to one in attendance, the lady attempting to do this shelter "had no idea what she was talking about," but apparently was already approved for a grant of federal funds. 

7188 Turner Lake Cir, owned by Mock Properties LLLP


What may have gotten lost in the shuffle with this situation (and also in part due to the higher interest given to the proposed apartments on Hwy 36), however, was that the owner of this property had to also sign off on this petition. That owner?

One
Ricky Mock, of Mock Properties I LLLP.


###

All these stories & more are very much DEVELOPING... 

- MB McCart 

Contact Info of Various Newton Co. Government Departments

...as of January 2020


Newton Co. Department Contact Info
Animal Control 
Phone: 770-786-9514
Emergency: 770-784-2100
newtonac@co.newton.ga.us
Fire Services
Phone: 770-784-2116
Board of Elections
Phone: 770-784-2055
elections@co.newton.ga.us
Coroner 
Tommy Davis
Phone: 678-625-1218
County Clerk
Jackie Smith
Phone: 678-625-1202
jsmith@co.newton.ga.us
Clerk of Superior Court
Madam Clerk Linda Hays
Phone: 770-784-2035
County Office: 
Zoning
Development
Permitting
Code Enforcement


Phone: 770-784-2018
Phone: 678-625-1231
Phone: 678-625-1659

Phone: 678-625-1661
District Attorney’s Office
Layla Zon
Phone: (770) 784-2070
Tax Commissioner 
Dana Darby
Phone: 770-784-2020
ddarby@co.newton.ga.us
Tax Assessor
Phone: 770-784-2030
Finance Director
Nicole Cross
678-625-1220
ncross@co.newton.ga.us
Probate
Hon. Melanie Bell 
Office: (770) 784-2045
Sheriff
Ezell Brown 
Secretary: 678-625-1401

[Perrin Lovett's CFF Feature Piece of Affairs National] - Sparing Hannibal

According to romantic legend, besieged by war and famine the wise men of ancient Carthage naturally saw fit to sacrifice their children to Moloch. 

Every time that a child was placed in them the priests of Moloch spread out their hands upon him to burden him with the crimes of the people, vociferating: “They are not men but oxen!” and the multitude round about repeated: “Oxen! oxen!” The devout exclaimed: “Lord! Eat!”

-Chapter Thirteen, “Moloch,” Salammbo, Gustave Flaubert (1862)

I mean, what else are you supposed to do? Wisest and noblest of all, Hamilcar, general and defender of the city, sent a slave’s child in place of his own son. The entire spectacle was said to horrify the barbarians.

In place of a gallant Hamilcar, America has Virginia Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam. He took the nickname “Coonman” back in his blackface days. More recently, he’s been offering up the Commonwealth’s children to Baal Cronus Virginem via infanticide. “Not men but oxen!” Coonman has also set his sights on disarming Virginians. Last week, he declared a state of emergency in Richmond and prohibited the carrying of guns at a pro-gun rally. Allegedly he had heard of a plot by “white nationalists” to celebrate the Second Amendment or something. “White nationalists” are obviously people who do things like mockingly wear blackface and sanction child murder. Right? In what appeared to be a setup of another Charlottesville, the government has raced around making some highly dubious advance arrests - including three in GA.

gadsenandculpeper.com


In reality, the rally, held Monday, was planned and organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League and was attended by average, ordinary NRA types - people, of all races, creeds, etc. who tire of state tyranny and who wished to demonstrate a reminder to the machinery of government that it is they, the people, who still hold power. This faction is generally thought of as leaning politically to the right. However, unsurprisingly, the right-wingers courted a few leftist allies. Forms of liberty being of at least nominal interest to more than one ideology, and with almost everyone (outside of the government) adopting the Second Amendment for what it is, Antifa joined the celebration, marching side-by-side with the NRA. Yes, Virginia, it is a weird world. Hey! I like to get these things in on a somewhat tenable schedule. Therefore, I’m wrapping this writing process up early on Monday afternoon. The rally appears to be peaceable, and that is excellent. Should anything develop, I’ll add a comment note - if needed - hopefully not. But still,

Watch Virginia

The reliably “red” state went “blue” recently due to an influx of non-native Virginians clumped up in great numbers outside of DC and in Richmond and Norfolk. Many of the new blues wear US Military uniforms. Thank them for their service? At any rate, real Virginians have just about had it with the woke-a-thon.

Virtually every county in the state, outside of those in the big urban areas, have vociferously defied Northam and his cronies. The whole map has suddenly become one giant Second Amendment sanctuary zone, surrounding the decayed urban islands. Threats of National Guard confiscation have been made - to little avail. The Virginians are not backing down on this one. In fact, they’re ramping up the pro-freedom agenda. Not satisfied waiting for another election, the good people have instituted lawful petitions to recall and dismiss Northam and the associated political machinery. The petitions debuted instantly with half or more of the required number of signatures. Rumor has it that the machinery is striking back, with the General(ly useless) Assembly dropping emergency legislation to raise the bar for such petitions. “Oxen! Oxen!

Here, we see the convergence of several things: tyranny justifying and defending tyranny for tyranny’s sake; a people literally up in arms, and; the coalescence of normally putative enemies around a central idea. It all starts to look like a formula. “Lord! Eat!” In not-unrelated news, I’ve been contemplating a separate column about bearing arms, something utterly different than what we’ve had here and from what you may read elsewhere. (Cogitating on that one). For now, watch Virginia very closely for a preview of where the other forty-nine may soon venture, civilly and uncivilly. And, speaking of civilly, it’s,

Impeachment 2020!

At long last, after three or four years of dreaming, the Democrats have their impeachment trial in the Senate. Two articles of such:

Article One - Trump abused the power of his office, by doing his job, aka by negotiating with foreign leaders as the nation’s chief diplomat and by concurrently investigating a possible crime as the chief law enforcement officer.

Article Two - Trump obstructed Congress. That’s also part of his job. The three separate and opposing branches and all that. 

You can, if you’re utterly bored and not currently Gutenberg-ing Salammbo, read the ARTICLES, as voted upon by the House. My call, if it doesn’t come to pass prior to press time, is an acquittal followed by more of the tedious same business as usual. Some sources now say the process could drag on for some time. (Yawn)

The World Lost a Literary Legend

Christopher Tolkien, son and literary executor of his father’s estate, has died at the age of ninety-five. It was his genius that brought to light so much of the corpus or legendarium of Arda that we would have otherwise missed: The Silmarillion, The History of Middle Earth, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin. He, last of the Inklings, was in his own right a master translator and philologist. The debt cannot even be calculated, let alone paid. Certainly, he has now spoken “Friend” and entered.

Remembering the Dream

Monday was our national holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He would have been ninety-one this week had his time not been cut short nearly fifty-two years ago in Memphis. I find it somewhat sobering that I have outlived him by a number of years now. But! What he did accomplish in that lifetime. I know, I know, FBI files, BU, and the Helms record - he wasn’t perfect, just like the rest of us. I admire him if, for nothing else, three small reasons: 1) he meant what he said, 2) he was a member of the Jailhouse Authors Club™, 3) the state considered him a radical (not unlike the Virginians). Oh, four - I’m sure he’s by now met Christopher Tolkien, likely at a celestial gathering of the Inklings. 

Thank you for another intrepid foray into the affairs of a nation and the world.